A visit to Champagne Henri Giraud

20th July 2017


With a glass of the Henri Giraud Grand Cru Fut de Chene in my hand I managed to quickly ask Claude Giraud, the current owner of Maison Henri Giraud Champagne a quick question during my recent tour of their properties in Aÿ:

I am sure you have countless wonderful experiences drinking Champagne, but for you, which one time drinking a glass of Champagne Henri Giraud really sticks out for you?

Oh… That is a hard question, I was not prepared for that! Let me think… … OK, a quick flash back through the years brings me to 1970 and the first date with my wife where I took her on a tour of the wine cellars of Henri Giraud and we shared a glass of Champagne there together. This is a good memory and an important memory too.

I love the way that for most people, memories of drinking Champagne is also a positive one and on most occasions usually marks an important time in their lives and for me, when it comes to Champagne I must place Henri Giraud as one of the important labels of the list of houses people must experience and learn more about.

I’d for sometime wanted to visit Henri Giraud and was pleased to receive a personal invite from Gauthier Vecten their current Export Manager who also took me on a full tour of their Champagne house in Aÿ which is just a few km’s outside of Epernay. This winery has a clear and what I would say green focus to the making of its Champagne and this is very apparent in most of what they are doing from the wine-making to the wine packaging.

We like to market our difference” said Gauthier as we walked round the oak barrels and the terracotta tanks from Italian potters and I am also made to notice the wording written up on the walls which states Ne rien s’interdire, ne s’obliger à rien, faire du bon vin naturellement which translates as Nothing forbidden, nothing obliged; make good wine, simply. Here is a brand that is experimenting to keep the long traditions of Champagne in place, going down roads alone to be unique, a place where Champagne is being made in a way you feel that Champagne has always wanted to be made, dismissing progress yet improving on traditions.

Domaine Henri Giraud have been committed since the 90’s for Champagne to become again the great wine it used to be. In that way we are working with the fundamentals of Champagne, A great terroir, Aÿ Grand Cru which is historical and qualitative and the heart & birthplace for Champagne. Also a great varietal, Pinot Noir, the original varietal for Champagne.

What exactly is Henri Giraud trying to achieve here I ask Gauthier:

We are striving for heritage and modernity. We do not wish to compare ourselves to other sparkling wines and neither other Champagne labels, we are quite simply Henri Giraud and we are unique and that is why our customers like us. How can I say… we want to be positioned in our own brand universe.

Our wine is about good people enjoying good food and good Champagne so they get good experiences. In my mind, a good bottle of Champagne is an empty bottle of Champagne.

Refreshing thoughts I feel for a label that is not a tiny boutique winery, but one producing 250,000 bottles a year and has worldwide international recognition.

With all the efforts in keeping the wine they produce traditional and their commitment to supporting the likes of replanting of forests, the great forest, Argonne is the artisanal birthplace for Champagne. Their Champagne is really expressive and very good to taste and enjoy. I was pleased to run through a wide range of their current labels with Gauthier who kindly also ran through each labels details via the video above.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.